Glaswegian musician Stina Tweeddale had always intended to recruit a full band in her creation of Honeyblood, but as the saying goes, “things don’t always turn out as planned”. Instead, she entered into a duo for Honeyblood’s first two releases and then after drummer and co-collaborator Cat Myers amicably left, Stina became a solo act. That shift in paradigm along with her personal experiences would fuel Tweeddale’s creative drive and produced her latest album “In Plain Sight”.
“In Plain Sight” arrives in all the usual musical outlets on May 24 and stands on the shoulders of Honeyblood’s outstanding 2016 effort “Babes Never Die”. That release was a well crafted offering full of what has become a hallmark for Tweeddale, arresting “I am better off without you odes” to wretched boyfriends and was loaded with moxie. The new release continues to exhibit her excellent ability to send unworthy love interests packing with a flea in their ear, but also contains a more expansive sonic and big audacious multi themes tracks.
Tweeddale after the end of touring for “Babes Never Die” she experienced a creative watershed writing over 30 demos. Those demos in hand, she would eventually head to LA and work with producer John Congleton in his LA studio to record “In Plain Sight”. That collaboration would produce a wider sound when compared to the boundaries that tethered Tweeddale to a straight-laced, noise-oriented sound on the past two albums. Now flourishes abound as the release spans from dirge-like Goth to 90’s groove. What remains is Stina’s encouraging girl anthems loaded with emotion and resolve. These tracks all keep faith with the Punk ethos of brevity that makes things potent and straightforward.
“In Plain Sight” commences with “She’s a Nightmare”, a track inspired scarily by a vivid reoccurring dream Tweeddale experienced where a female apparition would attempt to kill her. This experience would inspire Stina to ponder the notion of illusion, questioning fact and fiction, and who or what is the truth. It would also provide her with a reoccurring theme throughout the release. The track itself is filled with a fantastic Cure guitar/bass and a punchy élan that is an inspired segue from “Babes Never Die”.
“The Third Degree” takes a 60’s girl band sound and marries it to questioning liars in all their forms. It is as anthemic as all get out and is the kind of song Stina does so well. She embodies a sort of modern Boadicea who conquers over a cocksure love interest, as she reiterates she is a “No drama, drama baby”. The grungy “A Kiss from the Devil” utilizes a buzzsaw guitar lick to aid the narrative. Here the protagonist is running head forward into a romance where angels would fear to tread. She had met her match and the anticipation for what will happen provides the fissure of allure for the track. The sonics make the song immediately accessible.
My favourite track is “Gibberish” which is loaded with spunky Punk inspiration and great drums. Stina identifies that she does not endure fools gladly and happily puts the boot to the neck of shit shooters. The track displays her channelling the Sleaford Mod’s anger and impatience with phonies. “Tarantella” slows things down from the romping early tracks as Stina shows off her vocal chops. This swirling sensuous offering displays a temptress dancing her dervish of enticement. Love the Interpol inspired guitar on this brilliant song.
Tweeddale shows her progression on “Take the Wheel” a song about the idea of giving up control. The wider sounds and sonic layering on the selection are evidence of Stina’s growth; happily, this occurs without losing what has always made Honeyblood so very promising. This growth is also evident on “Touch” which is a radio-friendly track filled with Gothic goodness. The song combines a wonky, heavy bass with Garbage sonic stylings as it confronts the push and pulls of sexual compulsion. Early fans of Honeyblood will find “Glimmer” is the song that provides a good dose of vintage Honeyblood making it oh so satisfying. This bewitching Punk rocker is another winner.
Hello Depeche Mode! “You’re a Trick” circles back on the question of illusion with a synth track that would make DM proud. The wonky keyboards set up a song that questions whether you can trust what your senses are telling you. My favourite deep track is “Twisting Aces” which is loaded with shimmering synths and smooth insistent beats. This amalgam of mesmerizing, swirling beats combines with Stina’s lyrics which capture her in a rare contemplative frame of mind. What results is Tweeddale alluring channelling Shirley Manson at her insightful best.
The last track “Harmless” is a departure for Tweeddale as the cacophony of Punk is turned off and instead, a folksy piano approach provides the final tilde on a fantastic release. This simple yet evocative selection addresses all those inner fears about loneliness and isolation. This is spelt out in the lyric, “Some day I will get to be disgustingly happy”. Stina eventually recommits to her intentions to fight on but also acknowledges she occasionally needs to lay down her arms and pick her battles well. The track is an insightful sign off to a wondrous release.
“In Plain Sight” displays that even though Tweeddale has gone through recent difficulties, as an artist she is developing beautifully. Tweeddale continues to pull no punches and I treasure her for her commitment to her beliefs. Ultimately “In Plain Sight” displays Stina faces her fears about abandoning her musical comfort zone, as she once again produces another impressive release. The recording of the album challenged Tweeddale but significant progress was attained. Those who have not encountered Honeyblood’s prior works should not hesitate to catch up with this singular talent. “In Plain Sight” from start to finish is a work of merit that keeps getting better the farther in you go.